U.S. President Donald Trump has announced the suspension of a “secret” meeting with the Taliban and the Afghan government planned for Sunday in the U.S. and the cancellation of peace talks.
Trump justified the decision through a series of Twitter messages after the Taliban claimed responsibility for a recent terrorist attack in Kabul, the Afghan capital, in which a dozen people, including an American soldier, were killed.
“Without being known to almost anyone, the main Taliban leaders and, separately, the president of Afghanistan, were going to meet me secretly on Sunday at Camp David,” the president said, referring to the presidential rest home in Maryland outside Washington.
Trump said that “unfortunately, and with the aim of achieving false bargaining power, they admitted to an attack in Kabul,” in which one U.S. soldier and 11 others were killed.
“I immediately cancelled the meeting and suspended the peace negotiations,” he said.
“If they can’t agree to a cease-fire during these very important peace negotiations, and even kill 12 innocent people, then they probably don’t have the power to negotiate a substantial agreement anyway,” he added.
This unexpected announcement comes shortly after a draft agreement reached between Washington and the Taliban after more than a year of negotiations, which provided for the withdrawal of 5,000 U.S. troops in 135 days.
This partial withdrawal would leave the U.S. contingent in Afghanistan at a level very similar to the one it had when the president came to power in 2017, when there were some 8,400 troops in the Central Asian country.
The Taliban have insisted that the withdrawal of troops is a fundamental issue for reaching an agreement during the nine meetings held in Doha to date, and had refused to meet with the Afghan government until reaching a pact with Washington.
The war in Afghanistan is the longest conflict the US has been involved in, where it has been present for more than 18 years and more than 2,300 Americans have lost their lives.